social media 101: 5 golden rules

In creating a Social Media 101 workshop for campus users as well as a new social media users’ guide, I recently crafted five golden rules to consider before beginning social media efforts on behalf of one’s institution or organization. They borrow from advice from many colleagues, but I figured posting them here just might benefit others.

1. Be present. Acquaint yourself with any social media outlets before trying to use them professionally. If you’re not familiar with Facebook, creating a group or fan page 15 minutes after you sign up could be an uphill climb. Learning as much as you can about a particular platform or community will increase your chances of success.

2. Be prepared. Have a plan for who will post and/or respond to social media, how often you may want to post content and what goals you want to accomplish (see below). You may want to prepare a content calendar based on major related activities and what your audiences should know … but be flexible to accommodate great news or suggestions whenever possible.

3. Be responsive. The biggest problems with social media efforts involve a lack of responsiveness and community abandonment. If someone asks a question via a Facebook page or Twitter account, they do not expect to wait days for a response. If you don’t know the answer to a posted question, don’t be afraid to say you’re looking into the response and get back to the person later. And don’t start a social media community unless you plan to make it sustainable.

4. Be friendly. Social media is conversational. Don’t talk down to your audience. Don’t bury readers in jargon. Don’t get angry and defensive. Do start conversations. Do what you can to help others. Do what you can to represent a friendly face for your area and the institution.

5. Put goals before tools. New sites, applications and communities emerge all the time, but before you commit to jumping in somewhere, ask three questions: 1) Does this help us meet a specific goal or goals? 2) What’s in it for us? 3) What’s in it for our users? If you can’t answer these questions, don’t forge ahead into an area of social media. While OSS (“Ooooh! Shiny Syndrome) can be hard to resist, success in social media involves focusing on communities and outlets where you can do a good job, both for the institution and for your users.

Any other tips anyone would suggest?


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8 responses to “social media 101: 5 golden rules

  1. Thanks Tim, excellent tips. This advice should be followed by anyone using social media. Tip #5 is the most important – I would have put it first in the list!

  2. I think in Higher Ed mentioning the Be Valued part somewhere along the way helps a lot. Many are getting into Social to “have another way of pushing our message” or creating a new place for the same people to ignore the same press releases 😉

  3. This is great! I would add that #3 is super important and often falls outside of the real ‘job’ of a communications/marketer. You’ll have to go digging for the answer and follow-through. Be ready to do that!

  4. This is a great list. I would only add: “Be Yourself.” Social media operates in a transparent arena where it’s easy to see who’s a jerk, who’s not telling the truth and who’s making themselves out to be more than they are. You don’t want to be one of those people. Be yourself.

  5. Tim Nekritz

    DEBORAH: I agree very much this is ultimately paramount. Just in this structure I like the other four points setting it up. I’m not presenting to folks who do social media for a living, so I want to construct four table legs first.

    JP: That’s a good suggestion. Or perhaps could be rephrased as Provide Value … give something people can’t necessarily get anywhere else. That’s why it’s interesting to see organizations breaking news on their Facebook Page first … talk about a paradigm shift.

    MEGAN: Absolutely agree! I’ve worked here for 10 years and have learned so many things from having to chase down these questions! So it really helps anyone involved in the process become a better resource.

    PATRICK: I like! Be Yourself or Be Authentic is excellent advice. I had a suggestion via G+ that said anyone working in social media should enjoy doing so and have a good sense of humor. I think it’s all part of giving your social media outlet the right personality.

  6. Pingback: Idealogue: Being Present and Responsive on Facebook

  7. Pingback: British Columbia Library Association | Librarian a-Twitter

  8. Reblogged this on Fablanthropy and commented:
    Great tips for those of us using social media in our philanthropic careers!

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